Jump to content
Born in Denver
I was one of those that groaned (likely the loudest) when it was suggested that yet another study was needed to assess the “affordability gap”. We do not need yet another study that will confirm what we already know. Let’s simply say:
(Although I am a member of City Council my views are my own and may or may not be shared by my fellow council members.)
One of the key issues that became apparent during last night’s meeting is that there is not a shared understanding of what “Open Space” means. Going forward we need to have a clear definition or we will run the risk of using the same words but talking past each other.
The 2009 Rita Valentine Park conceptual plan had a limited development option that would provide for (disk golf, a variety of bike and hiking trails, Dog Park, picnic area and an access road.) From the commissions perspective these would be compatible uses of “open space” and would not degrade the intended uses of the property.
However, it was loud and clear that some folks present last night do not want any improvements to the area that would include the list previously mentioned. Perhaps a better word in this context would be “Nature Preserve” vs. open space or park land.
(Although I am a member of City Council my views are my own and may or may not be shared by my fellow City Council members.)
Change the parking signs to read Noon to Midnight. Change the current 2 hour to 3 hours. Unless it is long-term parking Howelsen and specially designated lots and slots all parking downtown is 3 hour. Do not make exceptions for Sunday and Holidays parking. These exceptions are goofy in a town like ours. These relatively low cost changes will change employee behavior provided we are willing to enforce parking regulations.
For the retail store situation – most folks stroll up and down Lincoln Ave. It is more of the exception than the rule that visitors have a final destination that is only one retail establishment.
The way-finding signs that are being installed and the new long-term after business hours & weekends (holidays) contracted parking lots at Wells Fargo and Yampa Valley Electric will be a great addition. This is a low cost alternative worth a try. Locals and visitors will likely quickly learn where to park if they want to park for longer than 3 hours.
Issue #1 –
Is it the City’s responsibility to encourage more commerce in a specific geographic location? Just because it can does not necessarily mean it should. Alarm bells go off in my head when I hear terms such as “leader and courageous” to describe actions the city should take. I do not think you want us to be defined by these terms. I think you want us to do our best to be defined as prudent, diligent and boring.
The reality is that the topic of parking will re-surface in this community from time to time. The challenge is not to overreact. Let me begin with a simple statement – I do not think we have a major parking problem that needs costly solutions. Without questions the situation can be improved. A few targeted “tweaks” is all that is necessary to accomplish this.
We have two separate issues that are being wrapped into the discussions occurring around “Parking”. Issue one; increase the desirability of Yampa Ave to encourage more commerce. I’ll call this issue Shop More Eat More (SMEM) on Yampa Ave. Issue two; lack of parking hurts SMEM throughout all of downtown. These are two very different issues being wrapped into one discussion that from my perspective results in us metaphorically chasing our collective tails in a circle and think we are making any kind of progress. The two issues should and need to be separated.
I am going to speak to issue #2 first. What parking problem are we trying to fix and how hard do we need to work at fixing it? Without questions there are certain times during the year (summer July-mid September) that parking in the afternoons, specifically weekends where parking can on a few occasion be a challenge.
The key “problem” seems to be that employees/owners are parking close to their own establishments or that of their peer businesses and are crowding out potential “customers” or so we assume this is happening. The magnitude of this occurring is unknown. Is it happening 10% of the time or 90% of the time? Are the businesses impacted the most by poor employee/owner parking habits primarily restaurants or a general retail stores? Who knows!
From my perspective a low cost approach would be to change signage and “beef-up” enforcement. This is a very simple “tweak”. Most of the parking signs downtown read either (2/3/8) hour that begins at 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Except for the rare special event (4th of July Parade) we do not have a parking issue downtown until the afternoon. From the ad-hoc discussion I have had the biggest problem seems to be with restaurant employees coming on shift at 4:00 pm who are parking in 2 hour slots intended for downtown customers.
This Parking issue gives me a headache!
I have yet to figure out what problem we are desperately trying to fix let alone its magnitude. For some the problem is the revitalization of downtown commercial. For some it is traffic congestion. For others it’s trying to change employee and business owner parking habits/behaviors. Yet some want to replicate what are the perceived success of communities such as Aspen or Boulder. Some want to implement paid parking as a means to finance a multi-story parking structure.
I think there is a great risk of implementing solutions in search of a problem.
I am game. Tell me what parking problem you think downtown Steamboat Springs has that desperately needs fixing now.
Although we are not a perfect City Council I think we have the potential to be a very good one. The seven of us are very different from each other and this diversity is where our potential exist. We do not even come close to agreeing with each other on many topics or approaches. However, I have a great deal of respect for each of my fellow City Council members. Seven months into my 4-year term on City Council that respect continues to grow.
Kudos to Kenny for wanting to propose a different vision for Yampa Street. I appreciate Kenny’s perspective and what he envisions as the potential of Yampa Street. There are many aspects of that vision I share with him. I think the debate amongst the 7 of us involves on this topic and a host of others is focus, approach and urgency. And most importantly the unintended consequences of any action we may direct to be implemented.
It seems to me that we get in a hurry proposing a cornucopia of solutions to a problem we have yet to define in ways that can be quantified. The first step in this process is simply defining what would “parking” success look like downtown and how would we know as a community it has been achieved.
A paid for “Parking Study” may help define the problem but it is just as likely it won’t. From my perspective getting in a rush to do something/anything so we can say we did something – could end up being worse than doing nothing. The Stock Bridge parking lot may be a monument to “Ready/Fire/Aim”
(Although I am on City Council, my opinions are my own and may or may not reflect the views of my fellow council members.)
Good Morning Scott W. -
The LMD is a whole different "kettle of fish" and beyond the scope of what is being discussed in the postings above. Related to be sure - but different.
Hi Neil –
There was a time that most ski areas in Colorado did report their skier numbers. They did so as a part of the trade association, Colorado Ski Country USA. This number was useful when viewed on a national/statewide basis.
If memory serves me correctly it typically showed year after year that of the 50 million skier days nationally that Colorado ski areas captured in the range of 11 to 15 million of total skier days and the Steamboat Ski area reliably captured about 8% of the total Colorado skier days.
This number had some usefulness if for nothing more than comparability. The challenge was that not everyone counted the same way so there was always a great deal of variability associated with the number.
However, when Vail Associates withdrew from the Colorado Ski Country USA they no longer provided skier numbers for the areas they owned in Colorado. (Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge). At about the same time the trade association would only release aggregated skier visit numbers of their 21 member resorts.
For the 2012/13 season they estimated that Colorado as a whole had about 11.5 million skier visits and that the 21 trade association member resorts had about 6.4 million skier visits.
My guess is that sometime in mid-June that Colorado Ski Country USA will release the aggregated number of skier visits for the 2013/14 season. This will be an interesting aggregate number when it is released and I am sure that Lisa will be on the lookout for it.
For as long as I have lived here we seem to have an obsession about the number associated with skier days/visits. Without question it gives some sense of how busy the ski area was– but in reality it is none of our business as a community to know this number precisely. No more than asking a base area restaurant how many dinners they served. Or a downtown retailer how many cowboy boots they sold. The desire to know does nothing more than satisfies a general curiosity but nothing more.
In addition, the number of skier days is data that has a lot of “noise” associated with it. The number of skier days is not just visitors. This is because in the number of “skier days” is mix-up the local population, part-time residents and perhaps even Ski Corp employees that get to their job on the mountain via the lifts.
If one is so inclined a “ballpark” estimate of the number of skier days associated with visitors can be developed by looking at the number of passengers arriving at YVRA. During the 2012/13 ski season (Dec-Mar) there were 71,162 deplaning passengers. Intercept surveys show about 85% of these folks are destination skiers. (The other 15% are locals/part-time residents/business travelers and a small segment that traveled here during the winter, however, do not ski).
A typical destination visitor skis 4.5 days during their visit. This alone would account for about 272,000 skier days in the 2012/13 season. It is necessary to add to this number those that drove/shuttled here. This needs to be a reasonable assumption. I think it is reasonable to assume that driving here accounts for something between 25% and 50%. Splitting the difference let’s assume that 38% of the destination skiers drove/shuttled here. This group likely ski fewer days because of the travel time – so let’s assume 1 fewer day skied or 3.5.
Putting all this together it is possible to estimate the number of skier days associated with just visitors to be in the 350,000 to 400,000 range. Is this number perfect? No way but it is in the “ballpark” and is likely close enough to satisfy our curiosity associated with a number which is none of our business to know precisely in the first place.
Last login: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Contents of this site are © Copyright 2014 Steamboat Pilot & Today. All rights reserved.